Yesterday’s game seemingly just ended and the Tigers used a combine 27 pitchers (I got a call from Jeff Jones at 1:30am but I let it go right to VoiceMail). Ok, to be serious, every reliever outside of Jose Valverde saw action in yesterday’s (today’s?) game. I would assume that David Pauley is available after he only tossed 1/3 of an inning and Phil Coke could be called upon again given he has a bit more endurance than others in the pen. Doing the math, this means that we need today’s Starter, Rick Porcello, to go AT LEAST 6 innings…if not 7 or 8.
However, the chances of giving the bullpen the relief it needs to tonight are not ideal when you take a look at Porcello’s season.
Rick Porcello has yet to throw a complete game in the Major Leagues – EVER. This year he has pitched more than 7 innings in only 5 of his 21 starts and only once has he recorded 8 IPs. To show a different side of the same story, he has only reached 100 pitches in a game 7 times (one being a 120 pitch performance against the Yankees back in May and a 117 pitch effort against Seattle in June) . Because it is not fair to compare anyone to Justin Verlander we can look at Max Scherzer and see that he has reached 100+ pitches in 14 of his 24 starts (although he has a similar record of short outings when looked at in terms of innings – 7 of his 24 starts are less than 7 IP). Scherzer is 27 while Porcello is only 22, so maybe age is the reason for the difference in allowed pitch counts.
(Editorial sidenote – it is kind of a shock to remember that Porcello is only 22 – next year with the presumption that Jacob Turner joins the rotation their combined ages will be under 50. That is scary)
I understand Porcello not having a complete game under his belt in his career since we have Jose Valverde as our closer. However, the lack of games where he has transitioned to the setup man is both alarming and shameful. For an example of this we only have to look back to Porcello’s last start. He was cruising through the Royals lineup only to be pulled at the first sign of adversity. the Royals led off the inning with two straight hits and had a running at 3rd after a sac fly. Porcello allowed that run to score but had runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. Being a ground-ball pitcher this should not have been any reason for concern. However, Jim Leyland decided to go get Phil Coke (a fly ball pitcher) when a double play gets the Tigers out of the inning. As you know, Coke surrenders a run, leaves for Pauley, who allows a run but then gets that much needed double play. Game tied. Porcello was only at 82 pitches and a strong argument could be made that he should have been kept in the game to try and get that double play.
Tonight’s game is when we need to stop babying our 22 year starter who has been in the Majors for 3 years. He needs to be allowed every chance possible to get in his 7-8 IPs. Not only does the bullpen need the rest, but I think our starter would appreciate it if his manger showed some faith in his maturity.